Political cartoons about women’s suffrage, now on exhibit in Logan, still resonate (2022)

(Courtesy of National Woman's Party) Nina Allender drew political cartoons for The Suffragist in the early 20th Century during the woman suffrage movement.

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The line of protesting women is holding banners that quote the president’s praise for democracy and liberty. One sign retorts: “How long must women wait for freedom?”

Another woman carries a rat trap — ready for the conditions ahead as the line moves forward into jail.

The 1917 cartoon by artist Nina Allender shows the hallmarks of her work: She documented women standing up for their beliefs, highlighted the struggles they faced and regularly confronted President Woodrow Wilson with his own words, arguing it was hypocritical for him to push for democracy around the world when American women didn’t have the right to vote.

For decades, Allender’s cartoons “were tucked away in a closet” in the office of the National Woman’s Party until they were rediscovered in 2001. Now, her illustrations have been gathered into a traveling exhibit, which is on display at Utah State’s Museum of Anthropology in Logan through Aug. 31.

Allender created her political cartoons a century ago during the women’s suffrage movement, but many of the issues she was commenting on still resonate in 2019, said Candi Carter Olson, associate professor of media and society at USU.

“She was interested in women’s rights and children’s rights and the rights of these poor women,” Carter Olson said. “When we think about what are problems today, still there are women in poverty, women trying to make a living while having kids and who want their kids to have the best life possible.”

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, and the 150th anniversary of Utah becoming the first state where a woman cast a ballot. With these upcoming milestones, there’s a lot to learn from women like Allender and the exhibit, "A Woman Speaking to Women: The Political Art of Nina Allender," said Molly Cannon, executive director of the Museum of Anthropology.

“It lets us talk about these issues of representation but also these issues of poverty, of work conditions, of equal pay," Cannon said. "All of these things that Utah women are challenged by and are working to overcome.”

“A Woman Speaking to Women: The Political Art of Nina Allender”

The exhibit of political cartoons by Nina Allender is free and open to the public through Aug. 31.

When • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and on the first Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guided tours are held at 2 p.m. each Tuesday.

Where • Utah State University’s Museum of Anthropology, Old Main 225, Logan

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‘Nothing timid about that woman’

Allender’s illustrations ran in The Suffragist, a weekly news tabloid published by the National Woman’s Party, published between 1913 and 1920. Allender, one of the few women creating political cartoons at the time, tried to address issues while also putting a contemporary brand on the movement, Cannon said.

Her cartoons portrayed what was referred to as the “Allender girl.” Instead of showing suffragists as old or unattractive, as some outlets did, Allender wanted to display “a very youthful, energized, determined, forthright perspective, Cannon said.

In one cartoon on display at the museum, a woman confronts a soldier and Uncle Sam.

“There’s nothing timid about that woman,” Cannon said. “She’s got her hand on her hip and her protest sign, and she’s got her message and she wants them to hear it."

Allender, who lived from 1872 to 1957, was born in Kansas and studied art at Corcoran School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She was working at the Treasury Department “to support herself after her husband’s desertion” when she met Alice Paul, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, according to the Library of Congress.

Paul encouraged Allender to submit her first cartoon to The Suffragist. Allender was uneasy at first "because she saw herself as a painter and not a cartoonist," according to the Library of Congress.

In her cartooning work, the disparity between Wilson’s advocacy for democracy in other countries while American women could not vote “comes up time and time again. Democracy begins at home,” Cannon said.

When the suffragists were arrested while picketing, Allender drew the conditions they faced in jail. Some of her early drawings used militant imagery and references to the American Revolution.

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“She’s equating women’s suffrage with that fight. It’s just as important and needs just as much effort and determination to win,” Cannon said.

Allender also used humor and wit to convey her points. In one cartoon, she used a twist on the “Little Miss Muffet” nursery rhyme to symbolize that women living in states that had already passed women’s suffrage would not be frightened by those who refused to consider any amendments. Labeling the dangling spider as the “judiciary committee,” Allender wrote:

“Little Miss Moffit

Sat on a tuffit,

Eating her curds and whey;

There came a great spider

And sat down beside her,



(Courtesy of National Woman's Party) Nina Allender used humor in her cartoons. In this 1916 drawing, she took a twist on the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Moffit."

(Video) Women's Suffrage

More work ahead

The 19th Amendment was the suffragists’ signature accomplishment, but they knew there’d be more work to do, Cannon said. They focused on the work of motherhood, labor conditions, poverty and other issues related to quality of life, she said.

“These women were so organized,” Cannon said.

The suffragists used media, symbolism, clothing in gold, white and purple, music and speeches, among other tactics, to directly engage government officials, said Cathy Ferrand Bullock, professor and interim department head of journalism and communication at USU.

In June, Bullock and Carter Olson focused on these media and public relations strategies used to support and work against women’s suffrage at the Bennions’ Teachers Workshop at USU. For example, opponents used suffragette as a pejorative term, so U.S. women used the word suffragist to describe themselves, Bullock said.

The goal was for teachers to learn how to teach these topics to students during the anniversaries next year, Bullock said.

Many of the strategies the suffragists used are still around today, Bullock said.

“People are still using poetry and music and speeches and more traditional media and social media to try to get points across,” she said.

Voting rights issues in present day are “part of a very long history,” Bullock said, stretching back to the famous women’s rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.

The upcoming anniversaries are a good time to revisit that past, Cannon said, and look at what can still be done. The Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex, is something that the suffragists worked on, but in 2019, has still never been ratified by all the states, she said.

“Utah is one of those states where that has not been ratified, so I do think there is certainly hope that this anniversary can shed awareness,” Cannon said.

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today.

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(Becky Jacobs | The Salt Lake Tribune) Molly Cannon speaks July 12 at Utah State's Museum of Anthropology about what can be learned from an exhibit of Nina Allender's cartoons.


What is the main message of the political cartoon about? ›

Political cartoons are drawings with a partisan message for viewers about what they should think or do politically. Most political cartoons are a form of journalistic comment designed to influence viewers with regard to specific political events of the day just as the editorial usually tries to do.

Why is the suffrage movement important today? ›

The woman's suffrage movement is important because it resulted in passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which finally allowed women the right to vote.

What were the consequences of the women's suffrage movement? ›

The 19th Amendment helped millions of women move closer to equality in all aspects of American life. Women advocated for job opportunities, fairer wages, education, sex education, and birth control.

What is the theme of women's suffrage? ›

The women's suffrage movement fought for the right of women by law to vote in national or local elections.

Which of these is a purpose of a cartoon? ›

Cartoons are used today primarily for conveying political commentary and editorial opinion in newspapers and for social comedy and visual wit in magazines.

What does the cartoon represent? ›

a sketch or drawing, usually humorous, as in a newspaper or periodical, symbolizing, satirizing, or caricaturing some action, subject, or person of popular interest.

Is women's rights still an issue today? ›

Today, gender bias continues to create huge barriers for many women. Ongoing struggles include ensuring equal economic opportunities, educational equity, and an end to gender-based violence.

What is suffrage and why is it important? ›

Despite what it might sound like, suffrage doesn't have anything to do with suffering. In fact, suffrage is a term that refers to a person's ability to participate in society by being able to vote at elections.

How successful was the women's suffrage movement? ›

Women vote today because of the woman suffrage movement, a courageous and persistent political campaign which lasted over 72 years, involved tens of thousands of women and men, and resulted in enfranchising one-half of the citizens of the United States.

How did the women's movement impact society? ›

The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the ...

What was one effect of the women's movement on society? ›

The most important result of the women's movement was the acquisition of the right to vote. In the United States, this was achieved in 1920. Women's suffrage then lead to further development in the women's movement. For example, there was a gradual increase in the number of women who held political office.

Which is an accurate summary of the goals of the women's rights movement? ›

The goals of the women's rights movement was to improve women's roles in society. Also, it was to achieve young voting rights for women by means of a congressional amendment to the constitution.

What was the argument against women's suffrage? ›

Anti-suffragists argued that most women did not want the vote. Because they took care of the home and children, they said women did not have time to vote or stay updated on politics. Some argued women lacked the expertise or mental capacity to offer a useful opinion about political issues.

What is the debate in women's suffrage? ›

In the eyes of the public, the suffrage debate was one about what social roles women should play, while in Congress the debate was centered on who could make that decision. The goal of woman suffrage was ultimately achieved when Congress passes the 19th Amendment in 1919 and it was ratified on August 18, 1920.

How do you fight women's rights? ›

8 ways to change the course for women's rights
  1. Raise your voice. ...
  2. Volunteer. ...
  3. Start a fundraiser. ...
  4. Attend marches and protests. ...
  5. Donate to women's movements and organisations. ...
  6. Shop smartly. ...
  7. Challenge events. ...
  8. Become a corporate sponsor.
16 Apr 2019

Which is the best description of the purpose of political cartoons? ›

political cartoon, a drawing (often including caricature) made for the purpose of conveying editorial commentary on politics, politicians, and current events.

What is the importance of political cartoons and caricature in our history? ›

They explain and explore stories in manners that articles cannot. More effective than writing or video, they capture the imitable human nature of their subjects in order to humanise the topic they depict.

What is the best way to analyze political cartoons? ›

To really analyze the cartoon, you want to think about not only what the artist says, but also what tools they're using it say it. A good starting point is to consider the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and logos, which are elements of speech and language used to create forceful, effective arguments.

Why do cartoons are said to be one of the most effective means of communication? ›

It is the ability to distill an idea, or a joke, into an few short words and images. It's this communication short-cutting that makes the cartoon carry the message so effectively. Often cartoons will use the power of observational comedy, which again allows the audience to identify with the message.

How does the cartoonist use an analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? ›

How does the cartoonist use an analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? The cartoonist compares the shark's illness to food poisoning to show that pollution affects wildlife.

What does the cartoon explain about power sharing? ›

Explanation: concentration of power in one hand will make the peson corrupt. But by power sharing this reduces because there is a check on one by another.

What is the importance of women's rights essay? ›

When women get equal rights, the world can progress together with everyone playing an essential role. If there weren't any women rights, women wouldn't have been allowed to do something as basic as a vote. Further, it is a game-changer for those women who suffer from gender discrimination.

Why is women's equality important? ›

Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls. It's essential for economic prosperity. Societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier. Gender equality is a human right.

What are some issues that are considered women's issues? ›

Six women's issues explained with emojis
  • 1) Violence against women and girls. ...
  • 2) Gender pay gap. ...
  • 3) Digital gender divide. ...
  • 4) Informal work and instability. ...
  • 5) Period poverty and stigma. ...
  • 6) Underrepresentation as leaders in health.
17 Jul 2020

What was the suffrage movement what did it accomplish short answer? ›

The women's suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once.

What was the suffrage movement long answer? ›

What was the suffrage movement? What did it accomplish? Answer: The suffrage movement means the right to vote or franchise. It was the struggle for the right of women to vote and run for office and is part of the overall women's rights movement.

Is suffrage a political right? ›

"Suffrage as conferred by the constitutional provision is not a natural right of the citizens, but a political right intended to enable them to participate in the process of government to assure it derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

Why is it called women's suffrage? ›

The word suffrage comes from the Latin word suffragium, meaning the right to vote. Women in the United States had fought for suffrage since the time of Andrew Jackson's presidency in the 1820s. Before the Civil War, women were allowed limited voting in a few states.

What do you think was the most positive impact of NOW and other women's organizations? ›

The most important impact of the NOW and other women organizations would be the bill of rights that they established for women. This made society treat everyone equal no matter what gender. This made and set a path for equal wages, equal positions, and most important, equal morals and respect.

What is the positive effect of feminism in today's society? ›

Gender equitable societies are healthier for everyone. As feminism challenges restrictive gender norms, improvements in women's access to health care, reproductive rights, and protection from violence have positive effects on everyone's life expectancy and well-being, especially children.

Why is feminism important in society? ›

Feminism benefits everyone

And one of the main aims of feminism is to take the gender roles that have been around for many years and deconstruct these to allow people to live free and empowered lives, without being tied down to 'traditional' restrictions. This will benefit both men and women.

What is the main aim of women's movement? ›

women's rights movement, also called women's liberation movement, diverse social movement, largely based in the United States, that in the 1960s and '70s sought equal rights and opportunities and greater personal freedom for women.

What do you understand by women's movement? ›

women's movement. A movement to secure legal, economic, and social equality for women, also called the feminist movement. It has its roots in the nineteenth-century women's movement, which sought, among other things, to secure property rights and suffrage for women.

What is women's movement give examples? ›

It is a movement that opposed the patriarchal values exploiting women and the creation of inequality on the basis of gender. Example: dowry harassment, rape, kidnaps and acid attacks, etc.

Which of the following was the main goal of the women's suffrage movement quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (8)

Women's suffrage? Political Reform Movement whose main goal was to achieve the right to vote for women.

When did the women's suffrage movement start and end? ›

The Women's Rights Movement, 1848–1917.

How did the women's suffrage movement start? ›

In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first convention regarding women's rights in the United States. Called the Seneca Falls Convention, the event in Seneca Falls, New York, drew over 300 people, mostly women.

What is the purpose of a political cartoon quizlet? ›

What is a political cartoon and what is its purpose? A drawing created to provide a humorous or critical opinion about political events or persons. The purpose is to convince the audience to take a particular view on a historical event. A political cartoon expresses the opinion of the artist.

How do you analyze a political cartoon? ›

To really analyze the cartoon, you want to think about not only what the artist says, but also what tools they're using it say it. A good starting point is to consider the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and logos, which are elements of speech and language used to create forceful, effective arguments.

What is political cartoon irony? ›

Irony. Irony is the difference between the ways things are and the way things should be, or the way things are expected to be. Cartoonists often use irony to express their opinion on an issue.

What are symbols in a political cartoon? ›

Symbols used in Political Cartoons:
  • Peace - dove, olive branch, victory sign.
  • United States - Uncle Sam, flag, stars and stripes, shield.
  • Democrats - donkey.
  • Republicans - elephant.
  • Death - vulture, skeleton with shroud, skull and crossbones, grim reaper.
  • Love - heart, Cupid, Venus.
  • Money - dollar bill or dollar sign.

What are questions used when analyzing a political cartoon? ›

What's happening in this cartoon? What was happening when this cartoon was made? Who do you think was the audience for this cartoon? What issue do you think this cartoon is about?

What is the meaning of the political cartoon What does the dove represent? ›

Dove, a bird often used to symbolize peace .

What does this cartoon suggest about the Progressive Party? ›

The cartoon suggests that the Progressive Party will fix the social problems of poverty and child labor, and will lead people to a free, fair, and just society. The cartoon suggests that the Republican and Democratic Parties do not know how to fix these social problems.

What methods does the cartoonist use to persuade the audience? ›

Cartoonists use simple objects, or symbols, to stand for larger concepts or ideas. Cartoonists will exaggerate (make larger) the problem or issue in order to make a point. Cartoonists often place a label on objects or people to make it clear exactly what they stand for.

What makes a political cartoon effective? ›

The images can cast a powerful interpretation on the day's news. They explain and explore stories in manners that articles cannot. More effective than writing or video, they capture the imitable human nature of their subjects in order to humanise the topic they depict.

Why are political cartoons effective? ›

The cartoonist's message is clear and understood in seconds, characters are caricatured and delivery is accessible and amusing. An effective cartoon distils information into a single image that resonates with the public perception of an issue or person.

Why do cartoons are said to be one of the most effective means of communication? ›

It is the ability to distill an idea, or a joke, into an few short words and images. It's this communication short-cutting that makes the cartoon carry the message so effectively. Often cartoons will use the power of observational comedy, which again allows the audience to identify with the message.

What is the purpose of the labels or captions in a political cartoon? ›

Captions can include speech bubbles, headings, and catchphrases used by politicians. Captions help explain what is occurring in the cartoon, who the characters are and can enhance the joke. Cartoonists use stereotypes to convey their message and also to be funny.

What are the 5 characteristics of political cartoons? ›

Identify five elements of a political cartoon (symbol, exaggeration, irony, labeling, and analogy).

Why are political cartoons a useful source in the study of history? ›

Political cartoons are vivid primary sources that offer intriguing and entertaining insights into the public mood, the underlying cultural assumptions of an age, and attitudes toward key events or trends of the times. Since the 18th century, political cartoons have offered a highly useful window into the past.

How does the cartoonist use an analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? ›

How does the cartoonist use an analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? The cartoonist compares the shark's illness to food poisoning to show that pollution affects wildlife.


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